City Journal Spring 2014

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Spring 2014
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Brian Calle
Madison on the Pacific « Back to Story

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I am SO proud to live in Costa Mesa where city officials are willing to take a risk in order to stand up for the taxpayers and residents of the city! I have experienced the lazy, overpaid Costa Mesa city employees first hand, and believe me, that would NOT cut it in the private sector where competition drives prices lower!
One of the "facts" presented here invalidates the article. Of course public worker compensation is higher. There are no fast food and retail employees in goverment to drag down the average wage. If you want to get rid of unions why stop there? Just be ready to give up weekends, vacations, health care and all the other niceties unions have won for the middle class
Excellent article, Brian, and right to the point. Keep the pressure on.
excellent article.
God speed, Costa Mesa!
Speaking as a fiscal conservative I have no problem with this. I think your push back would come more from the left-wing Democrats extremist and racists who have been vocal on keeping people working no matter what the cost.
@grupenhoff
Good to understand the differences between private sector and public sector unions:
http://mercatus.org/publication/public-sector-unionism-review
The city and state would not have these pension problems if the elected leaders raised taxes to pay for public employee pension plans when the plans benefits where increased. However if the elected leaders had raised taxes to pay for the increased benefits, its very likely the benefits would not have increased as much as they have.
Bravo, Costa Mesa!
"leading the assaults on working people"

Are union working people the only "working people?"
Heyyyy.
They can't claim to be a mini Madison until they have legislators going awol and protests that cost them 8 mil in Police overtime alone. A few death threats will score some street cred too. Wait..suicide and vandalism? Heyy...that's progress(ive).
@grupenhoff:

The pension and pay is fine, so long as there are a lot fewer government workers-- that's the choice the City Council has, however they got there.

Layoffs, or cuts-- what benefits the most workers?
Oh, I forgot to add "WTF!!!" to my previous comment.
I'd start tossing salt at these corpulent "public" employees, as it works to remove leeches and kill slugs. I have an NPR listening neighbor who retired in her forties as a human resources secretary with the FAA and is getting 80% retirement plus benefits, She takes home over $80,000 a year in retirement pay...as a government employee secretary?
Good luck to the city council. They are up against some of the most violent and ruthless elements of our society. The strength of their courage and resolve will determine the fate of Costa Mesa for years to come and may also be the bellwether for the rest of a state under siege by the public unions.
I am aghast that a coastal city would do this. Maybe there is hope for the rest of the state. Living in the northern central region where conservatives abound I have seen the liberal coast dominate our entire state. Unable to move, it gets more depressing every year seeing the idiots that the voters bring back to office, then wonder why no one wants to live here. What I'd really like to see is two states-East CA. and West CA. Liberals west coast could fall off into the ocean at the next earthquake and it would be a dream come true. Would still have lovely moutains, desert and a new and improved coastline.
Is it possible to outsource outsourced work?
Sounds like a business plan.
If Costa Mesa is blocked from going through with reforms, they should declare bankruptcy and lay off all city employees.
Layoffs are never easy, but the city workers, the LADP, the OCEA all have to take a good look at the numbers and realize that 100% of this fiscal crisis is the overwhelmingly unrealistic pension liabilities. Eliminate the lifetime gravy-train after early retirement, and the working families will be fine. All of the problems in all of the states and counties come back to one thing: these union-negotiated pensions that are simply disproportionate.

Look, if a private worker (most of us) wants an income for life as high as a city worker, we'd have to save over 1.5 million dollars in a defined contribution plan and roll it into an annuity with an 8% growth rate. Sound unrealistic? Yes, it is! and that's the entire point!!

The pensions that the city workers are promised is about the same some lottery winners are promised when they win a million dollar jackpot.
As a follow-up to this story, perhaps you could ask the Democrats and the union members to explain three points:
1) How cities realistically should deal with the budget shortfalls on the horizon.
2) Why the large majority of workers in American β€” non-unionized private sector workers β€” should have to work harder and retire later to subsidize above-the-median incomes and early retirements for public sector employees.
3) What percentage of union members' dues goes to pay unions' leaders and administrators.
I'm sure they'll have some interesting answers to get on the record.
Interesting: Democrats are quoted saying β€œThe right-wing Republican extremists who are leading the assaults on working people in Wisconsin have hit home locally, attacking working families in Costa Mesa,” and being fair and balanced the author went and got no quoted from the Republican party?
Brian --

Chuck Reed, San Jose's mayor, has not gone this far -- yet. But San Jose's council is discussing layoffs and a ballot initiative to fundamentally change the retirement and related health care structures --

The fur is flying --
During the past century it has been the unions that have rescued exploited workers, and in so doing created a stronger middle class, providing more families with comforts, security, and home ownership.

For this they earn the contempt of politicians and bureaucrats who have mismanaged city, state and federal budgets and now need a scapegoat to blame for their mistakes. Blaming unions for negotiating fair and sensible wage and pension packages is like blaming big business for making a profit. That cities are spending more money than they have is not the unions' fault. Find your culprits elsewhere.
Brian: Great article. As a finance guy I'm amazed that so many people don't understand the simple math here. The cities are spending more money than they have or earn and the unions don't seem or choose not to understand that simple concept. Maybe we need a Ross Perot type with flip charts to explain basic math concepts.